Permission Forms Are Hazardous To Your Health

By Howard J. Bennett, MD

By the time children reach three or four years of age, most parents are buried in forms—there are school forms, camp forms, health forms, and emergency forms. As a pediatrician and parent, I not only have to complete my own children’s forms, but I also have to fill them out for my patients. So the other night as I was drifting off to sleep, I imagined receiving the following letter from the director of our local preschool.

Dear Parents:

We have received a lot of questions lately about the various forms you are required fill out before your child enrolls at our school. In order to keep the parent body up to date, we have prepared this brochure, which describes all of our forms in detail.

Standard Authorization Form: This is the backbone of all our forms. This document gives us permission to feed your child, wash his hands, take him to the bathroom, read him books, play with him, console him when he hurts himself, and send him to time-out if he calls any of the teachers “butt-head.” It also contains a rider, which authorizes the teachers to explain where babies come from in case anyone is curious enough to ask. The rider stipulates that parents promise not to malign the school if their child embarrasses them by pontificating on this topic at some point in the future.

Outdoor Activities Form: This form allows us to take your child outside Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Standard activities include, but are not limited to, running and jumping, climbing, going on swings, playing in the sandbox, chasing butterflies and leaves, and playing with whatever small rodents we currently have in the classroom. The form does not authorize climbing trees, throwing sand, running into the street, or other behaviors that might be dangerous to the rest of the student body. Also, be advised that we cannot apply sunscreen unless you fill out the supplemental Sunburn Prevention Form, which is available in the director’s office from 9-10 a.m. on Thursdays during the spring and summer months. Finally, on days when air quality is in the “unhealthy” range, we cannot take children outside unless you have submitted the Ozone Alert Form, which must be signed by your child’s pediatrician, allergist and/or lung specialist. Please note that sending your child to school with a portable oxygen tank is not a substitute for signing this form.

Nonprescription Medication Form: The school cannot give over-the-counter medication to your child unless this form is signed by your pediatrician. Your doctor may balk at this and complain that it’s ridiculous that he is being asked to authorize the dispensing of non-prescription medication. Do not listen to this nonsense. Instead, casually mention that one of his competitors (the one with the new aquarium in the waiting room) always signs this form for your friends. That should have his pen up and running in no time.

Special Events Authorization Form: From time to time, we sponsor special activities at school. An example is last week’s visit from the Humane Society on the proper way to bury a dead hamster. Next month we have a guest speaker from the Health Department who will be discussing dysentery and the life cycle of Salmonella. If you want your child to attend these events, be sure to fill out this form. Be advised that our guest speakers occasionally pick children from the class to help with the demonstration. If you want your child to be picked as a “special helper,” you must also sign the Student Guinea Pig Form, which is an addendum to the We Promise We Won’t Sue the School Under Any Circumstances Form. Both of these forms are available during our weekly school fundraisers.

Infectious Disease Form: Even though 90% of the illnesses your child gets will be the direct result of coming to our school, we have a strict policy on when children can return after an illness. By signing this form you agree to abide by our infectious disease protocols, which are described in the school’s 125-page booklet, “Kids That Get Sick and the Teachers Who Avoid Them.”

Prescription Authorization Form: The school will be happy to administer prescription medications to your child provided you submit this form in triplicate for each medication your child needs to take. In addition, the medication must come in the original bottle bearing your child’s name and a bar code that matches a label sewn into his shirt or pants. The school’s part-time nurse administers medications at 12 noon. If your child’s medication schedule varies from this time, special arrangements can be made by filling out the Difficult Family Form, which should be returned to the director’s office with a dozen donuts and a note from your nanny attesting to your more redeeming qualities as parents.

Heimlich Maneuver Authorization Form: According to our attorneys, it is prohibitive to let staff members administer the Heimlich Maneuver in our current litigious society. We plan to address this issue by holding CPR classes throughout the year. All children over the age of 18 months are eligible to attend these classes. Remember, if you sign this form, the life you save may be your own.

Thank you for taking the time to review this brochure.


Kay Johnson, Director

Uptown Nursery School

© 2012 Howard J. Bennett. All Rights Reserved.

(First published in Stitches, The Journal of Medical Humor April 2002.)

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